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Liner Notes 7 – 9

BY THE WATER

Not quite composed on the day. Came up with the guitar part on the 3rd-4th, and was working it up to post as a guitar-only track, as present for a friend’s birthday (I still want to do something like that); but on the night of the 5th the deadline came up and the recording wasn’t good enough; so I pulled it and posted a backup instead (I’m Going To German); then on the 5th I get an email from my father reminding me that it’s my sister in Australia’s birthday on the 6th; I have “Climate Change Denial” already recorded from right at the start, and ready to go on Sunday (cos it’s start of the awful Copenhagen talks), so I have a day in hand and I start thinking about cannibalising the instrumental into a present for my sister.

But me and K. go to Ripon on the night of the 5th, and the cat has a fat white tick which apparently it’s my job to remove, and I need to catch up with my mother, and help cook, etc., and the song is going NOWHERE, I can’t think of a thing; so I work on it theoretically, generating various dud versions, and start to get the concept, but now it’s midday on the 6th, and I only have a couple of lines – the first and last, it turns out – so as we go out for a walk I am filling it in like an obsessive (which is what I have become), and by the time we get back to York that evening I have most of the words written, bar a few gaps, and I’ve fit them to the instrumental.

Then I have an hour or so, ‘cos K.’s cooking, to fill in the gaps in the lyrics with, at this stage, anything that scans; and I try out some alternative phrasings, and alter the singing part so it’s in harmony with the guitar line, rather than mirroring it, to add some interest; and finally it’s all there and I play it through in the entirety for the first time – and BURST INTO TEARS; and can’t finish the song. Try again, still crying, and finish and go sobbing through to K. See, it’s about two real incidents, wonderful and emotional to recall.
Finally after dinner I record it (hence electric lighting) and post it up. The end. Tho’ I wished I’d named it “By the Pool,” though.

The stars conversing with the skyscrapers / Whales and sailboats sleep in the bay, / This was a sideshow dull as anything at home / When I saw my brother walking all alone.

The wedding is a liner on the land, / Sailing, dancing on seas of the night, / When I looked down from the window, and out across the lawn / And there I saw my brother walking all alone.

Sure, I cannot know his mind, / But I’d guess it quite like mine. / And yours as well, or so it seemed, / O my sister.

Like a sunrise you came out to him, / And heads bowed low you walked by the pool, / You left your wedding for your brother and his thoughts / And on the next day did the same for me.

NO SWIMMING

This got written in a flash. There’s nothing original about it, but it seemed to work. In fact, I think it’s the most compelling of all the songs, though it’s missing a verse. The song addresses my feelings on trying to find somewhere natural to swim in f******g England, during the hottest summer ever known. We eventually discovered an incredible place near the North Yorks moors; only to discover, later, that what we had done was Absolutely Forbidden.

The first seven words are actually taken from a sign by the Fairy Bridge in Ripon, put up by Harrogate Borough Council. They are real. The rest of the verse is a free translation of what the rest of the sign says. The second verse is pretty much what every kid in Ripon sees on every green space there is in town; and the third verse relates a story that a drunk man outside York train station told me.

I was really pleased with the riff, which basically came from me learning from the internet that the 6th is a common harmony note.

Water can be pleasant to look at / But it is also man’s deadly foe / No swimming, love from Harrogate Borough Council.

Ball games are fine on the tellie / But not if they’re played near a road. / No ball games, by order of local bye-law.

No stopping no waiting no swimming no drinking no  . . .

My girlfriend got two months in prison / For taking her drink on the street. / No drinking, by order of North Yorkshire Police.

You get filmed and harrassed / Arrested and attacked / If you say the troops should get out of Iraq. / No demonstrating, by order of the Labour MPs. / And if you think things will improve under Cameron’s rule then you’re a fool.

THE DEADLINE

This one didn’t go down very well. Viewings crashed. I had to put it up because I’d already written “December (slight return)” but had recorded it in an unpleasantly strained manner. I wanted to do it justice, so I put up this instrumental and recorded DASR again the next day. But by that time half the universe had been turned off the Calendar because they hated the instrumental.

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